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Agenda item

City of London Academy Highgate Hill Holland Walk Islington London N19 3EU

Minutes:

Demolition of the existing school hall and replacement with a new four storey building comprising new school hall and teaching spaces to facilitate the expansion of the existing school; Refurbishment work at main building on Duncombe Road to support the provision of new Design and Technology classrooms including installation of new vents at first floor level and three exhaust flues above roof level; Relocation of external cycle parking, bin storage and tensile canopies, with new landscaping and boundary treatment.

 

(Planning application number: (P2021/0002/FUL)

In the discussion the following points were made:

·         The Planning Officer advised that since the agenda was published, applicant has submitted a parking survey which assessed the parking situation of the area and officers from the Highway Travel and safety Team have reviewed it and have no objections to the scheme.

·         Site has good transport provision and the surrounding area is largely residential in context

·         In terms of land use consideration, the provision of new educational facilities is supported by Development Plan and National policies which will facilitate a new sixth form for 200 students

·         Members were advised that the provision of new educational facilities will provide additional school capacity within the borough and the new facilities would be made available for community use where appropriate.

·         Members were advised that the new 4 storey block is acceptable in scale, massing, appearance and townscape effect and that the provision of tree planting and landscaping to mitigate the tree losses is considered acceptable by the Council’s Tree Officer.

·         The proposal will also improve energy performance and sustainability standards of the school and construction activities on the site will require coordination with the adjoining Elthorne Estate development.

·         Meeting was advised that the Bridge Satellite School is accessible via Duncombe Road while other entrances on Holland Walk, Ashbrook Road and Nicholay Road are used by City of London Academy (COLA).

·         Planning Officer noted that advice from applicants with regards to Nicholay Road entrance which is currently closed is due to ongoing construction activities at Elthorne Estate

·         Members were advised that local residents have raised concerns about the impact of the proposal on the highways, traffic and safety with particular reference to access arrangements.  The Planning Officer acknowledged that although access to school site is not subject to planning control, officers have recognised that as the site is surrounded by residential properties officers have agreed that it would be reasonable for the school to utilise the other access to address overcrowding and congregating both during and after school hours.

·         In addition to the use of the other entrances, the Planning Officer informed members that the school is proposing to split the age group of students, with year 7-9 using the Nicholay Road entrance to the east, years 10-11 students using Ashbrook Road and the sixth form to use the main Holland walk entrance, in an attempt to spread the numbers evenly across the site or area. 

·         Meeting was informed that officers have welcomed this suggestion and have recommended a Site Management Plan to ensure that the school manages the movement of pupils in and around the site and area and have recommended condition 10 as stated in the report.

·         In terms of energy and sustainability, the scheme will result in a 67% reduction in regulated emissions and applicants have agreed a financial contribution of £29,440 to offset the remaining Co2 emissions.

·         In response to a question on whether the school projections was related to local demand in the borough, the Planning Officer advised that although not stated in the report, there is an assumption that it will include Islington residents as Council Education officers were consulted.

·         In response to a question on whether Members could accept the decision by the applicant not to provide a green roof on the basis of financial constraints, the Legal Officer advised that planning officers in assessing the application weigh up all the factors before taking a view and that the issue of cost could be seen as a material consideration.

·         In response to a comment in the report which states that solar shading will not be provided as the Department of Education is not willing to fund it, the Planning Officer highlighted that this was an issue raised by the Design Review Panel but subsequently not raised as an issue by officers.

·         A resident of Nicholay Road, was concerned that the use of the road as another access into the site would worsen safety concerns for not only school pupils but pedestrians and residents that during this period of lockdown issues of pupils congregating and spilling onto the road has been raised with the school. The resident indicated that the main entrance presently used is sufficient, and the schemes proposal to use other entrances was unnecessary especially as there were no road markings or signs on Nicholay Road. 

·         Another resident queried the need for an additional access into the school considering Holland Road has always been the main entrance, that the use of Nicholay Road had always been viewed as problematic, dangerous and unsafe especially as the road is used by heavy and large Council Service vehicles and delivery vehicles in the area, 4-5 times a week mixing with students.

·         Another resident indicated that there were flaws with the scheme, for example providing a disability access in the location of Nicholay Road entrance, especially when there are better and safer areas on the site. The objector indicated that she had discussed it with the school staff, noting if applicants had engaged with the residents, they would have advised against having disability access in Nicholay Road.

·         A resident who indicated that he would be directly affected as the scheme would result in loss of daylight and sunlight in his property. He was concerned with the inaccurate data in the report and the assumptions , stating that the scheme is in breach of BRE guidelines, that the drawing of his ground floor erroneously describes it as his hallway when it is his main living room, that a loss of 12% although acceptable if it were hallway but not where it is his living room. Similarly in the case of sunlight loss, the objector questioned the figures in the report as inaccurate as it was difficult to ascertain how the figures were arrived at.

·         In response, the Planning consultant advised that in terms of access concerns in particular from Nicholay Road, following discussion with planning officers it was agreed in conjunction with the School that the use of all 3 entrances would ensure the dispersal and departure of students both during and after school time.

·         Members were advised that the School has committed to stagger the start and finish of school times for different classes so as to alleviate any concerns of neighbouring residents.

·         On the issue of servicing arrangements on Nicholay Road, meeting was advised that there will no changes to the current arrangements, hence no additional impact on residents will arise from the proposal.

·         In terms of the loss of a tree on Nicholay Road, the consultant advised that the proposal would replace it with new trees across the site, provision of tree planters and that the scheme proposes a green roof and garden on site.

·         Meeting was advised that sunlight and daylight assessment was carried out by independent consultant and that in general the proposal meets BRE guidelines, acknowledging that although there were some losses but this was not above the required standard.

·         On the issue of managing school pupils on the site, the clerk highlighted the previous arrangements over the years, that in the last year with Covid restrictions in place there were some difficulties managing the staggard times for students, however reassuring members that post Covid, there would be new arrangements in place

·         In response to a question on pupil projections, Committee was advised that this will be based on Islington modelling, however there is allowance for pupils to come in and go out of the borough. With regards the loss of 320sqm, meeting was reminded that the loss has been offset with a proposed roof top play area and the reflection garden.

·         In response to a question on the decision to use Nicholay Road as an access into the school and not utilise the pedestrian entrance on Holland Road and if the applicants had ascertained any incidents, the consultant advised that a Transport Assessment had been undertaken which concludes that there had been no incidents in recent years. The consultant reiterated that the decision to use Nicholay Road as an access road is simply to manage the pupil movement and to help ease their dispersal. Members were reminded that Nicholay Road had previously been used as an access into school previously and has road markings although slightly fading.

·         With regards to resident concerns that the daylight and sunlight data in the report is inaccurate, the Planning Officer acknowledged the description in the report, stating that assessments of anywhere in a dwelling is always based on the assumption that they are habitable rooms and the loss of 12% is not in breach of BRE guidance.

·         The Planning Consultant advised that public consultation was carried out, that an online public consultation was carried out, with over 320 mail drops and the online website had public mail boxes.

·         On the concerns about having wheel chair access near entrances, meeting was advised that every entrances has to be Building Regulations Disability complaint and this has been taken into consideration

·         On the question about specialist provision, the school representative clarified that considering school is extremely popular and oversubscribed, its provision of a high standard of education is aiming to retain its high achieving sixth form students who would have had to move out of the borough. Meeting was advised that COLA sixth form will provide a hub for sixth form Islington residents who would  otherwise have had to travel out of the borough to meet their needs.

·         With regards to managing the pupils, the meeting was advised that pupils line up on the pavement around the school and that the dispersal of students will be managed on the basis of age groups, that a school rota for staff will in place to manage the pupils. The school patrol will go out after 30 minutes of school closing time to ensure that students do not congregate outside the school and neighbouring areas and that any breach will be managed by the School disciplinary procedures.

·         In summary, the Chair acknowledged that the proposal is to cater for sixth form pupils, reassuring that Islington sixth formers will be able to study in the borough, that sixth formers will make their way to the school and not dropped off by vehicles. On the issue of daylight and sunlight, a loss of 12% is not in breach of BRE guidance.

·         Member acknowledged that concerns with the movement of school pupils should be managed by the school, that this was not unique to any particular school, welcoming the proposal to have 3 entrances as it should mitigate any concerns about pupil movement.

·         A member was concerned that the school had not engaged with its neighbouring residents throughout the process and that applicant could have made sufficient attempts to address ecological concerns by providing a green roof in the scheme.

·         A suggestion by the Chair that the wording relating to the green roof condition be strengthened to require the provision of this was agreed. This was seconded by a member.

·         In terms of the management of pupils, the Chair suggested that an annual meeting facilitated by the school with residents  would help improve relations between the school and local residents, and referenced a similar situation with another secondary school in the Borough where this strategy had worked. This was welcomed by the committee and it was agreed that the Management Plan be amended to include a requirement for the annual meeting.

·         Members agreed to amend the condition as noted above, details of the wording to be delegated to the Planning Officer and to be agreed by the Chair 

 

Councillor Klute proposed a motion to grant planning permission subject to amending the conditions relating to the Management Plan and that the green roof condition be amended to require a green roof. This was seconded by Councillor Woolf and carried.

 

 

RESOLVED:

 

That following consideration of the case officer’s report (the assessment and recommendations therein), the presentation to Committee, submitted representations and objections provided verbally at this meeting, planning permission be granted subject to the amended conditions and informatives set out in Appendix 1 of the officer report.

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